How to Delete Songs in Your iTunes Library

Organize and optimize your music collection by removing unwanted items

As your iTunes library grows and inevitably becomes more disorganized, you'll want to start pruning your collection to keep it in shape. For small to medium sized music libraries, you can manage the contents quite comfortably by manual deletion, rather than having to use a separate music management software program -- some of these can be quite expensive too. If for example, you've recently copied your iTunes songs to an another location (like an external hard drive), and want to delete the original files on your computer's hard drive, then this tutorial will show you how.

Launch the iTunes software now and follow this guide.

Backup Your iTunes Library Before Deleting

Before you start working with your music collection, it's a good idea to make a backup just in case you have a digital music disaster. If you're unfamiliar with how to do this, then follow our iTunes library backup tutorial to see how. If anything does go wrong, then you can always restore your iTunes library to its former glory.

Viewing Your iTunes Music Library Contents

Tip: To make it easier to view the contents, try using Grid View (iTunes version 8.0 or higher) if not already selected. This feature is accessible by clicking the View menu tab at the top of the screen -- the As Grid option should then be ticked to enable this mode. To view the contents of your music library if it isn't already displayed on-screen:

  1. Locate the Library section in the left iTunes window pane. Underneath this, click on the Music menu option to display the contents of your library.

    Selecting Songs and Complete Albums

    1. Highlight the song or album you want to delete by clicking on it.
    2. To delete multiple items, you can hold down the [CTRL Key] (Mac: [Command Key]) on your keyboard and click on multiple entries to highlight them
    3. To highlight a block of songs, click on the first song, hold down the [Shift Key] and then click on the end song in the block to highlight your selection.

      Deleting Songs and Albums -- Keep or Remove?

      Tip: You may find that the best view mode to use when deleting songs is the List view. To switch to this, simply click the View menu tab at the top of the iTunes screen and select As List. This is useful for displaying all songs in your library in alphabetical order for example.

      1. Once you have highlighted the songs and albums you want to work on, press the [Delete key] on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can also right-click an item once it has been highlighted and choose the Delete option from the pop-up menu. A dialog box will be displayed asking if you are sure you want to delete the selected song. You may also see a message explaining that once the song has been removed from your iTunes library, it will also delete the same song when you next sync to iPod, iPhone, or iPad if stored on the portable device. Click Remove to continue.
      2. Depending on where your songs are located, you may find that they are simply deleted. However, you may see a further dialog box displayed with the option to keep or move? The Keep File option only deletes the song from your iTunes library list but doesn't physically remove it from your hard drive. The Move option deletes your selection by moving it to the recycle bin (Mac: trash). which will physically remove the file from your hard drive. Click the most appropriate option to finish.